Orion Fall Festival organizers nailing down details

Mindy Carls
An Orion Fall Festival audience enjoys entertainment in the band shell at Central Park, Orion.

With the schedule for the 2010 Orion Fall Festival in place, organizers are drawing on the 37 previous festivals for the details of each event.

For the food tent: Buy trash bags, two mils thick. Refill the propane tanks, courtesy of Ed Sims of Sims LP Gas, Moline. Get a food safety certificate from the Henry County Health Department.    

For the carnival: Distribute advance tickets from Boden Amusements, Bushnell, to businesses for sale in early to mid-August.

For Central Park: Finish upgrading the electrical system. Buy materials to string lights on drop cords in the arts and crafts tents.

And so on.

Organizers met Tuesday, July 20, to see how plans are coming together for the festival, which will run from Friday evening, Sept. 3, through Sunday, Sept. 5.

“We have a great thing going,” said one of the organizers, Byron Carlson, about the festival in its fourth decade.

Family-friendly is the motto for the 38th annual festival, he said.

The schedule, printed on Page 2, features a lot of family events, which will allow families from Buysse Addition to Sunny Hill and out to Andover to stay home over Labor Day weekend, Carlson said.

Organizers also want to make the weekend affordable for families, he said. For example, they plan to keep prices at the food tent the same as last year.

“We’re aware the economy is tough, but everything is affordable,” Carlson said. “We want to give families a great event at affordable prices.”

Families that visit the festival will patronize Orion businesses while they’re in town, he said.

To keep going into its fifth decade, the festival needs the support of the community, Carlson said.

It’s unique, in that proceeds from the three-day festival are used for charitable purposes within the Orion school district.

Some of the funds help residents pay medical bills, and obtain help with vision and hearing problems.

Fall Festival funds also provide equipment and supplies for non-profit groups, from youth athletic teams to the fire department and ambulance service.

The festival has put more than $550,000 back into the community, Carlson said.

“We really have something we should be very proud of,” he said. “Not many communities have done this as long as we have done it. Great people have come together to make this happen.”

When organizers call people and ask them to help, they already know what the festival is, and they are ready to say yes, Carlson said.

“These people deserve the credit,” he said. “The Jims—Cooper and DeBaillie—and Jerry Meyer and all those guys slugging away and getting things ready.

“As a community, we’ve had great success in helping others because we have come together in good times and bad times,” he said. “People have been generous.”

One reason for the festival’s success is the involvement of various community organizations, Carlson said.

“We’re giving all the groups in the Orion school district an opportunity to do something,” he said.

Some have been involved in the festival for years. For example, Orion area churches traditionally host the ice cream social on Friday evening. St. Paul Lutheran will take charge of the event this year.

Other organizations are new to the festival. This year Orion PTA has taken over the run on Saturday morning. Instead of a 5K, the group is hosting shorter runs and walks appropriate for children, followed by a family run and walk.

Some hold special events during the weekend, Carlson said.

Stooge’s Saloon is having a beer garden with street dances on Friday and Saturday nights. The featured band on Friday is Tapped Out, and the featured band on Saturday is Lynn Allen.

On Sunday, the beer garden will have a disc jockey and karaoke.

Additional details will be in coming editions of the Orion Gazette.